In the midst of all this comes a humble suggestion from a cricket fan of 20 years (my age 23, take out 3 years, the time it took for me to learn what a television is). Bring us back the 1992 world cup! Agreed, I was just out of kinter garden and possibly am expected to know nothing about the World Cup. But, a little self defense before my credibility is questioned. Once, I faked illness to sit and watch the highlights of a match I had missed.
Well, now that my credibility issue is cleared, here are the reasons why I feel so passionately about that World Cup. It was the model World cup in all the senses. It had everything.
The jerseys. Coloured clothing for the first time and that was before the days when every square centimeter on a jersey was written off to a corporate giant. The design of the shirts could not have been any simpler. And the colours, the 9 participating teams had 9 distince colours. That wasn't an age when a slightly faded Sri Lankan blue shirt could be passed off for an Indian jersey and not all teams were crazy about getting green and yellow on their jerseys. A birds eye view would have revealed which two teams were playing and not some microscopic level research of jerseys to identify the different teams as is the case now. The customary start of the tournament pic featuring all the 9 teams is possibly the best of its kind.
The pitches. Australia and New Zealand were the hosts and one may not possibly need to elaborate more on the nature of the pitches. Long before sporting pictures became a hot phrase, this tournament was actually played on those. The variety of grounds in which matches were played is mindboggling. From the insanely huge MCG, in the times when boundaries were actually the advertising boards and not a 'sponsored' rope brought in 20 yards from the boundary to the lovely looking Wellington, the viewer was transported to a different world every single day. And yes, there were no standardised pitches, Perth was fast and Adelaide was the batting beauty it still is.
The crowds. Australia is possibly the most sport oriented country in the world and boy do they love their sports. And New Zealand proved that you actually don't need a billion people to fill up your cricket stadiums. It helped that there were so many day night matches, but my guess is even if every single match was played as a pure day game, the crowds would not have diminished a single bit. They were responsible for adding even more colour to the already colourful tournament.
The format. Nine teams. Each plays the other one one time each. The top four go through to the semi-finals. Simple, straight forward and so totally fair. The best teams who consistently won over the rest were the deserving semi finalists. No two ways about it. No unnecessary additions like a super eight, which as a concept still baffles me. The length of the tournament gave enough time for teams to come back from the dumps , as Pakistan clearly demonstrated, but not so long that the teams and the audience started to think that Wrold Cups had ceased to be a once in 4 year event but a 4 year event in itself.
The innovation. Much before Sanath Jayasuriya made a mockery of Prabhakar and hit Defraitas for a six which started from the Kotla and landed at the Red fort, an individual named Mark Greatbatch showed the world what one could achieve in the first few overs of a one day match. Slam wham bang was the only game this guy knew and not one person regrets it. And spinners opening the bowling? Whoever thought of that before. Dipak Patel and his captain Martin Crowe threw on the world possibly the biggest surprise of the past 2 decades and it worked seamlessly (pun may have been intended) as well.
The memories. Jonty Rhodes running Inzamam out. Javed Miandad jumping up and down to mock at Kiran More. Aamir Sohail kneeling down on the hallowed turf of the MCG offering his thanks to the Almighty at the end of it all.
The cricket. This was perhaps the biggest positive. Be it Jadeja diving full length to dismiss
The underdog story or maybe should we say underdogs. New Zealand and Pakistan weren't exactly expected to set the grounds ablaze. But thats what they did, and especially in their semi-final face off. Imran Khan taking pain killer after pain killer to lead Pakistan to their biggest cricketing moment ever. And what about South Africa? Just a year on from their international reappearance after a long break, they surprised and wooed us with their sensational cricket and they would have possibly completed the mother of all comebacks if not for....
The controversy. England v South Africa,22nd March 1992. Need I say more?
And yes, again. Need I say more?